Akal Takht Sahib - An Unbrella to the ISC
At the end of a very productive and historic Seminar held at the IOSS on 16 Nov 03, a resolution was unanimously passed which, inter alia, read as follows:
“This gathering of Sikhs has noted with great concern that the Panth is passing through a crisis marked by disunity, challenges to Sikh identity and established institutions like the Akal Takht Sahib and SGPC, spate of apostasy, existence of schisms old and new, and unnecessary controversies created to divide and weaken the Panth.
“In order to deal with these problems, to carry the divine message of the Gurus worldwide and to lead the Panth to its destined glory in the service of mankind, it is imperative to invoke the Gurus’ doctrine of Guru Granth - Guru Panth, which gives this responsibility to take decisions in the light of teachings of the Gurus with complete faith in sabad as Guru.
“This gathering feels that in the situation that prevails today, it is necessary to have a central body of the Sikhs with global representation whose deliberations will guide and assist the entire Sikh community.”
You must have all read this resolution as it is also contained on the first page of the ISC Constitution. I am reading it again to remind you that the situation hasn’t changed- in fact if there is a change it is for the worst. Internecine clashes within and without the SGPC are a regular feature. When these take place the devout look upto the Akal Takht Sahib and its Jathedar for guidance. This guidance is often not forthcoming because of various constraints under which the High Priests have to operate. We need to first recognize these and seek to probe into the root of the problem and the circumstances which stand in the way.
The ISC is completely committed and dedicated to all Panthic institutions, and holds the Akal Takht Sahib in the highest esteem. Under its patronage it will extend fullest cooperation and support in all programmes aimed at the glory of the Panth. In this respect I wish to highlight the objectives of the ISC enshirined in its Constitution.
a) To share the ideology of the Guru Granth Sahib and Sikh Gurus with all humanity for evolving a harmonious social order.
b) To articulate short- and long-term goals of the Panth.
c) To promote the cause of the Sikh community in national and international forums.
d) To articulate and express the views on behalf of the Sikh community in the above forums, and thus to represent the Panth in all domestic and international spheres.
e) To co-ordinate activities of various Sikh Organisations.
f) To help resolve and work towards settlement of all philosophical and other issues affecting the Panth as a whole.
g) To deal with problems of existing or potential schisms in the Panth.
h) To promote research and publication of literature on Sikh identity, religion, history, culture and tradition.
i) To rebut academic and other attacks on Sikh identity, religion, history, culture and tradition.
j) To take vigorous and sustained measures to promote Punjabi language.
k) To promote education and economic development of the Sikh community.
l) To initiate and help promote national and international effort, for humanitarian causes in pursuance of the basic Sikh tenets of Sarbat da Bhala (well being for all).
The intention that underlines these objectives is to promote the functions that legitimately belong to the Akal Takht Sahib.
Qualification for Membership of the ISC
The very first requirement is that the person should be a Sikh who has full faith in the Ten Gurus, Sri Guru Granth Sahib and Sikh Rahit Maryada and does not believe in any other religion.
Members of the Executive Committee shall be Amritdhari Sikhs with education equivalent to a degree from a recognized university.
We anticipate that this kind of guidance will meet the requirements of the Guru Granth under the patronage of the sacred Akal Takht Sahib.
Our Governing Council
This shall consist of 200 members wherein all sections of Sikh Society shall be truly and proportionately represented. Our organization chart clearly gives adequate representations to our Diaspora (50), Sikh Institutions (45), Takhts (5), SGPC Constituencies in Punjab (16), Haryana and HP (160), Delhi Religion (10) and other Indian States (30).
Takh Jathedar Sahiban will be permanent invitees to the GC. In deference to their exalted status in the Panth, they will not be involved in the voting process. This clearly shows the esteem with which the ISC holds the Akal Takht Sahib and its Jathedar Sahiban.
In the long term we, at the ISC, envisage that we help the Sikh Panth tackle problems faced by the community from time to time. This may relate to various aspects such as establishment of Sikh Identity worldwide and meet the present challenges to our identity, problem of apostasy among Sikh youth, controversies relating to Dasam Granth, All India Sikh Gurdwara Act, Sikh personal law, seating arrangements in langar, authority of the Takht Jathedar etc.
The ISC, in its Constitution, has catered for having a number of high powered Advisory Councils. At present we have raised five namely:-
(a) AC for Religious Affairs.
(b) AC for Education and Social Affairs
(c) AC for Economic Affairs.
(d) AC for Publication, Press and IT.
(e) Ac for International and Legal Affairs.
Each Ac will consist of a Head and upto ten members. The Heads will be highly qualified and experienced individuals. Remaining members too will be highly qualified and will be selected by the Presidium and the Executive Committee. Heads of ACs may even employ professionals as and when required, for specific projects and for sanctioned durations with the express permission of the EC. These professionals need not be members of the ISC. They will be the best brains available to us.
It would therefore be adequately understood that the ISC, while taking independent decisions, would be available to the Akal Takht Sahib for tackling various issues / problems relating to the Sikh Panth. In fact this will really be the think tank that will express the true feelings of the awakened Sikh masses who are today spread all around the Globe. The ISC has a membership of Sikhs in all walks of life and hence opinions expressed by its Advisory Councils / Executive Committee will have general acceptance. This perforce will bring about unity among the Sikh masses and will raise the prestige of our prime institutions such as the SGPC and the Akal Takht Sahib.
In conclusion I would say that the ISC is an organization whose aims and objectives further and supplement the role of the Akal Takht Sahib. We shall always respect the sanctity of the Akal Takht Sahib.